Holly Finds Hope Through The Salvation Army's Pathway of Hope Initiative

Sep 15, 2020



For eight years, Holly was living her dream life in New York City. A native to Oswego, New York, Holly’s move to the Big Apple was to follow her passion.

“I went to beauty school in New York City, I stayed there and worked for three high end salons and a celebrity colorist, and I could honestly say I lived, ate and slept in a salon,” Holly shared. “It was my passion.”

But her life was soon changed forever. “Then I got pregnant,” Holly said. “I was 31, kids were not a part of my script. They were not a part of my storybook.”

Holly knew that raising a kid all by herself wouldn’t allow her to continue living her dream in the salon. “So I came back here to Upstate [New York], I didn’t have anyone down there in New York City,” she explained. “I literally just started this whole new life by myself.”

Holly gave birth to her daughter, Ramsey, but her life as a single mom proved to be tough. “I was a mess. I had no job direction in life, I was not sure where I was going, and I was just living day by day, every day,” she said. “I just had a little girl that looked up to me to take care of her. I felt like I was failing not only myself, but her too. “I knew I wanted to be successful for my child, and I just felt stuck.”

But it was at one of Holly’s lowest points in life when she took a stepping stone to change her circumstances for the better. Holly had been coming to church services at the Salvation Army of Oswego, when she discovered Pathway of Hope, and then met Kristen Fragale, the case manager of the initiative. Pathway of Hope provides individualized services to families with children who seek to break the cycle of poverty, and enables them to overcome challenges like unemployment, unstable housing, and lack of education. 

Kristen got to know more about Holly, as she sought to help turn her life around. “She was asking me more personal questions, and asking me about things that meant a lot to me,” Holly said. “It was the first time in a long time that somebody actually cared what I wanted out of life. 

Kristen worked with Holly to set goals and began leading her on the right path to a better future. “That’s where we kind of researched, and figured out some educational, trade, training type opportunities in the local community,” Kristen explained.”We found that she was really interested in [being a] medical assistant.” 

“I decided I wanted to work in the medical field,” Kristen said. “All my sisters work in the medical field. I was seeing how they loved what they did, and I said, ‘You know what? Let me give it a try.’”

As Holly began her new journey toward a career as a medical assistant, she was met with a bumpy start, when she had trouble passing the Test for Adult Basic Education (TABE). It’s a diagnostic test used to determine a person’s skill levels and aptitudes. “I was getting discouraged,” she recalled. “I was going back to school, and I failed it my first time. I was crying, I called [Kristen], I was so upset.”

But Holly, thanks to encouragement from Kristen, didn’t give up. “It was someone that I could honestly count on,” Holly explained. “If I ran into a barrier, she was there to help me. If I needed advice, she was there to help me.”

Holly eventually did pass the TABE test, and began her studies. During that time, Kristen didn’t just provide emotional support - she also helped with the little things, too. “There’s been times where I called Kristen, and I needed rides to pick up medicine, and even though I feel bad for asking her, I know she will say yes, and it’s amazing,” Holly said. “There’s been times before I met Kristen where I had to walk places with my child out in the snow. And it does feel good to know you have that little bit of help.”

The months of toiling in the classroom are paying off for Holly. Thanks to Pathway of Hope and her perseverance, the single mom is now set to be certified as a medical assistant in early March. “It’s like I’m at that time where I’m at peace with my life, where I feel accomplished,” Holly shared.

Helping make a difference in the lives of people through Pathway of Hope, like she has with Holly, is why Kristen continues to lead the initiative in Oswego County. “It helps keep me going, and it’s nice to see that I can have that big of an impact on someone’s life, hence why I came into the human service field,” she explained. “But it makes it all worth it.

Holly is now has a better life ahead for both her and Ramsey. “I finally have hope,” she said. “Pathway of Hope has taught me to believe in myself. To not give up, even at my lowest, lowest point in my life.”

Holly’s story is proof that no matter your circumstances, there is hope for you and your family. It’s programs like Pathway of Hope that enable the Salvation Army to continue doing the most good for the families we serve throughout our local communities, including Oswego County.

The Pathway of Hope approach includes

  • Catalyzing community collaboration in service of shared clients
  • Moving families from crises and vulnerability to stability and eventually self-sufficiency, tracking family progress along the way
  • Bringing all The Salvation Army’s internal resources to bear, aligned to the goals of the clients
  • Focus on hope as a measured outcome, which represents the distinctly relational, spiritual outcome that The Salvation Army seeks in the work it does
  • Strengths-based case management services

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